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<<  -- 3 --  David Wilkins    DEVASTATING POWER

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In the various parts given to Guido Paevatalu's chameleon baritonal-tenor, it is the very demarcation of character that works so effectively. He finds a different way to inflect his voice each time: the Payador both is and is not the Principal Psychoanalyst -- he could be a godsend to Britten's Death in Venice if only the tessitura worked. His costume changes are slick of execution and loaded with pertinence. From the strutting, proud hombre who curses Maria for her rejection of his ludicrous chancing, through the gaudy be-mitred bishop and the Freudian shrink hiding his vacuousness behind a white medical coat, to the respectful beige suit and panama of an ambiguous Sunday worshipper, he is the vocal and theatrical star of the show.

Maria receives some bizarre funeral rites from Guido Paevatalu as the presiding bishop. Photo © Casper Sejersen
Maria receives some bizarre funeral rites from Guido Paevatalu as the presiding bishop. Photo © Casper Sejersen

Kaya Bruel is an impressive Maria -- vixen and victim. She displays ample, cynical pride in the power of how her body can provoke a madness of desire but she is always conscious of how the coin of fate might fall on the other side -- the one that deprives her of her heart and her identity. Already, early in the first part, she sings her defiant self-justification, Yo Soy Maria, with a calculated tinge of distraction : Lucia simultaneously inside and outside the sleepwalking, Lady Macbeth at two contradictory banquets. She is lovely throughout -- more than sexy enough herself and paired with a dancing 'shade' who attaches more lead weights to your psychological survival instinct while luring you into deeper waters.

A tatty pool table in a low Buenos Aires bar serves as Maria's diagnosis couch as she is interrogated by the psychoanalysts who sit around reading their volumes of Freud. Photo © Casper Sejersen
A tatty pool table in a low Buenos Aires bar serves as Maria's diagnosis couch as she is interrogated by the psychoanalysts who sit around reading their volumes of Freud. Photo © Casper Sejersen

I'll never know who or what is Maria de Buenos Aires. She is a lock and a key but, I suspect, from different doors. Piazzolla's score can pass through solid objects -- like whatever serves for the carapace of the soul -- and does so again, with bewildering and devastating power, in Copenhagen.

Copyright © 10 April 2005 David Wilkins, Eastbourne UK

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David Wilkins' review is based on the 30 March 2005 performance of Astor Piazzolla's Maria de Buenos Aires by Operaen Copenhagen at Det Kongelige Teater, Copenhagen, Denmark. Further performances take place on 6, 7, 9, 11, 18, 19 and 21 May 2005.

For more information about this opera, read David Wilkins' review of the first fully-staged UK production of Maria de Buenos Aires.

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